Gigantic cruise ships have been sailing the oceans and seas of the world for tourism purposes since the early 1900s, and while each new cruise ship was classed as the absolute height of luxury and sophistication, they would be almost unrecognizable as major cruise liners by today’s standard.
Take one of the most famous cruise ships of all time: the Titanic. Boasting a gymnasium, Turkish baths, a hair salon, a library, and a swimming pool, the passenger facilities and design were completely cutting edge when the vessel was launched into service in 1912. To enjoy these amenities, passengers forked out what would have been the equivalent of up to $50,000 today.
Cruise ships have grown in popularity since the 20th Century, especially those that are classed as the more exotic and unusual of journeys, such as Alaska cruise itineraries. Fortunately for travelers’ bank accounts, costs range from a much more affordable $400 to $8000 generally, depending on destination and length, and passengers get a whole load more bang for their buck when it comes to onboard facilities.
Indeed, step foot aboard any major cruise ship and you’re far more likely to find an entire floating city rather than a traditional boat interior. With popular coffee shop chains you’d see in most cities, celebrity-branded restaurants, Las Vegas-style casinos and every manner of store you could imagine, the cruise ship of today does a great job of blending the boundaries between land and sea, and even pushing the limits of what’s feasible.
The biggest cruise liners in the world are in operation throughout North America, and the best and most awe inspiring attractions are typically based on those that sail the most popular routes – that’s the Caribbean and Alaska cruise itineraries.
Passengers aboard these cruise ships can expect no less than Broadway-worthy musical stage performances, complete with costumes, sets and a live orchestra, ten pin bowling alleys, 30 feet high climbing walls, artificial ski slopes, real ice rinks, miniature golf courses, zip lines, fairground rides, 3D movie theatres and spa facilities that could rival those at the best land-based resorts.
While these cruise ships definitely seem to have the wow factor, they’re really just the beginning as cruise operators are continuing to shock and amaze their customers with new and groundbreaking attractions and designs. New ships launching in the coming years are expected to offer circus skills workshops, cookery classes, free fall water slides, private beach clubs and row after row of continental-style eateries with al fresco seating.
As far as onboard attractions go, there has never been a more exciting time to cruise as major cruise liners are becoming more grand, more spacious, more accommodating and more unorthodox than ever before. The Alaska cruise industry, for one, is absolutely thriving, and as demand grows facilities become better and costs become more affordable. It really is no wonder that increasing numbers of vacationers are choosing to become lifelong cruisers. Will you be one of them?
Contributor Nicole Rebeiro is a conservationist, and when she is not away on remote islands nurturing rare species back to health, she is a keen, London-based travel journalist.
Flickr photo by runekrem